About the Author: Suzanne Hall serves as the Public Diplomacy Advisor for Canada and Mexico in the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs.
Secretary Clinton flew to Canada to participate in the 100th anniversary of the Boundary Waters Treaty between the United States and Canada on June 13, 2009. The ceremony could not have taken place in a more beautiful setting: the Rainbow Bridge overlooking Niagara Falls.
The Secretary arrived early in the morning and proceeded directly to the bridge. Officials from both sides of the border — including Canadian Foreign Minister Cannon, legislators, governors, provincial premiers and mayors — were on hand for the celebration.
A brass ensemble from the National Academy Orchestra of Canada kicked off the event with a musical arrangement. Mayors from communities on either side of Niagara Falls then walked in, accompanied by an Honor Guard. Canadian Mayor Ted Salci from Niagara Falls, Ontario and Mayor Paul Dyster, representing Niagara Falls, New York, spoke to the importance of the Boundary Waters Treaty. Both talked about how U.S. and Canadian citizens have all benefited from its application over the last century.
The main event then began, with a processional from either end of the Rainbow Bridge. The two delegations — including Secretary Clinton and Foreign Minister Cannon — met in the middle of the bridge to shake hands. A binational honor guard then sang the national anthems from both of our countries and presented the colors. During her remarks, Secretary Clinton noted that over the last 100 years, the Boundary Waters Treaty has successfully prevented and resolved boundary waters disputes between Canada and the United States. Thanks to the Boundary Waters Treaty, our two countries have been able to smoothly move forward with important projects including dams. Of equal importance, the Boundary Waters Treaty is an important vehicle through which the U.S. and Canada seek to restore and maintain the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of our shared waters.
The final moments of the ceremony were perhaps the most moving, providing a beautiful tribute to the importance of our shared water resources to Native Americans and Canadians. A young man named Ryan, a member of the Tuscarora tribe, read from the Haudenosaunee Thanksgiving Address, a Native poem praising the Earth. The portion of the poem talking about water was particularly poignant. Ryan read:
“We give thanks to all the Waters of the world for quenching our thirst and providing us with strength. Water is life. We know its power in many forms — waterfalls and rain, mists and streams, rivers and oceans. With one mind, we send greetings and thanks to the spirit of water.”
The ceremony closed with the sound of carillon bells above Niagara Falls. The centennial celebration — held in a spectacular location — served to highlight the breadth and depth of the U.S.-Canadian bilateral relationship.